Voice Communications Technology: Healthcare Provider Perceptions and Satisfaction

Sunday, November 1, 2009

David Anthony (Tony) Forrester, PhD, RN, ANEF1
Susan Fowler, PhD, RN, CNRN, FAHA2
Harriet Gaidemak, PhD, RN2
Fatima Alves2
1University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) -- School of Nursing and Morristown Memorial Hospital, Newark, NJ
2Morristown Memorial Hospital -- Atlantic Health, Morristown, NJ

Learning Objective 1: describe the perceptions and satisfaction of healthcare providers using voice communications technology.

Learning Objective 2: discuss the clinical implications of healthcare providersí use of voice communications technology.

The purpose of this prospective observational and survey research study was to measure the perceptions and satisfaction of health care providers regarding voice communications technology (Vocera).  Subjects (N = 43) were healthcare providers practicing in the first three units of our hospital that went “live” with voice communications technology.  All subjects were asked to complete a simple 14-item paper and pencil perceptions and satisfaction survey. Additionally, the investigators made personal unstructured observations of hospital staff members’ use of the voice communications technology on a random basis.  Approximately thirty (30) direct observations were made of the actual use of voice communications technology in the clinical setting.

Our study provides evidence that voice communications technology may: (1) reduce noise levels in the acute care setting and the overall time for completing patient requests; and (2) increase the speed and quality of communication between patients and healthcare providers with the possible end result being increased satisfaction for both healthcare consumer and provider.  One negative implication of our findings is the potential impact on privacy of healthcare providers’ communication with patients.  Just as a healthcare practitioner is concerned with and takes responsibility for the working order (e.g., accuracy, sensitivity, etc.) of a stethoscope or sphygmomanometer, the practitioner should give similar consideration to ensuring that voice communications technology is in good working order.  Thus, the practitioner should be schooled in proper use and maintenance of the components of the voice communications system upon which they depend.          It appears that voice communications technology is viable.  When in good working order, the system can improve communication on patient care units.  The limitations of the device are the lack of reliability in both the logging-on and voice recognition aspects of the system. Voice recognition devices remain unreliable for the most part and voice communications technology is no exception.